HARVARD -- The pending Grant Road project adding over 100 new houses to Devens stock may be MassDevelopment's last hurrah, Selectman Lucy Wallace said, pointing to other indicators that the state agency plans to pull out early.
Charged with redeveloping the former military base, MassDevelopment now provides a quasi-government for the Devens community under the provisions of Chapter 498 in state law. But the town's Devens Economic Analysis Team (DEAT) report states that MassDevelopment will decamp long before the 2033 deadline, she said, and it's starting to look that way.
Word is, MassDevelopment's fallback exit strategy could be disposition decided by default, she continued, with historic town boundaries restored and jurisdictions along with them. She favors planning now, she said, either to circumvent that eventuality by coming up with an alternative that can be sold to all three towns or preparing to deal with the fallout if not.
"We have yet to determine what we want as a community" in terms of Devens disposition, she said.
Told that JBOS, an advisory board consisting of selectmen from Ayer, Harvard and Shirley, plus Devens Committee and MassDevelopment representatives, has proposed a bill to create a more localized form of governance for Devens until disposition is decided, Benson and Eldridge said it's the first they'd heard of it.
"I haven't heard a single thing..." Sen. James Eldridge said during a meeting with Harvard selectmen.
"It's been remarkably quiet," state Rep. Jennifer Benson agreed.
Communication has been difficult, but whatever MassDevelopment plans to do, the three towns should get a "heads up" as a courtesy, Chairman Marie Sobalvarro concluded.
The selectmen decided it's time to do some outreach to MassDevelopment, starting with an invitation to the agency's CEO for Devens, George Ramirez, to come to a future selectmen's meeting.